Saturday, February 15, 2003

Seat suit

Let's just play ball

Marge Schott and Carl Lindner should remember that they are part of the same team and resolve this silly suit that threatens to become a pain in the seat for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Schott sued Lindner's Great American Insurance Co. this week, claiming the Cincinnati Reds majority owner cheated her out of seats she was promised in the new Great American Ballpark when she sold him controlling interest in the team in 1999.

Schott says she was promised a private box and 21 premium seats next to the field. That's what she had in the old stadium, where she was a fixture next to the dugout, signing autographs for any kid waiting patiently in the aisle. What she gets in the new stadium are seats far from the field - in Section 128, Rows 34 to 36. She also must share the use of the owner's box.

She may, or may not, have a case, but Schott remains a minority owner of the team and this suit casts a pall over the new stadium just in time for Opening Day. The fans deserve better. They want homeruns and championships, not lawsuits and court dates.

That sentiment is shared by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who sent Schott a leter asking her to reconsider the suit. "Marge, after all you went through to get the new ballpark going, please do not have a disruptive impact in the fans' excitement and the good will surrounding the opening of Great American Ball Park," he wrote.

We agree. This town and the Reds don't need any more bad news. The fans already have put up with disappointing seasons, underperforming players and the continuing Pete Rose fiasco.

Schott's philanthropy has meant much to Cincinnati over the years. When she controlled the team, she worked hard to make sure going to a Reds game was an enjoyable experience for the fans. Wherever she ends up sitting in the new stadium, the fans will continue to find her.

Meanwhile, she ought to take one for the team and drop the suit. Then we can just concentrate on enjoying baseball - be it next to the dugout or in the cheap seats.

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